If we look at important landmarks in international development, we must first look at how defining the Sustainable Development Goals impacted the global community. Before the SDGs, there were already preexisting global developmental frameworks that operated similarly to the SDGs and that defined some of the grand challenges of today. However, the SDGs not only redefined what these grand challenges were, but also set a mission statement to be accomplished before the year 2030. By having a deadline of when these goals need to be achieved was a first major step towards resolving some of the issues. Knowing what the issues are and setting a goal for when they should be met is an essential first part of international development, but the most important component is finding ways to implement the different practices to meet the goals. How then can you enforce developmental practices in countries around the world to unanimously contribute to meeting these objectives? In 2012, the United Nations created the High Level Political Forum along with the SDGs as a way for all of the different actors involved in international development to discuss how the SDGs will be met and how to implement its strategies. The key role of the HLPF in this is that it uses soft power to encourage nations to adapt sustainable practices and also leverages international reputation of countries that do not implement sustainable development policies. There is much debate over the efficiency of said soft power, but altogether there is significant progress in achieving many of the goals set out by the SDGs.
The HLPF and the SDGs however do have certain criticisms, especially in regards to its multistakeholder aspects. The HLPF meets annually and is open to both state and non-state actors, but for non-state actors to take part in the meetings, they must first overcome a series of bureaucratic hurdles and become ECOSOC accredited in order to do this. For non-profit organizations that work towards helping local communities develop, not only would it be particularly difficult to overcome some of the hurdles, but it would also be extremely costly to participate in these conferences. Other issues with the HLPF pertain to the Major Grous framework and its division into nine inclusive categories. Although these categories cover a majority of the target population, they also leave out certain groups that are equally in need of development practices and representation.
All in all, we still have 13 years before the deadline of the SDGs is up, and although there are many challenges that seem out of reach in this timeframe, much progress has been made in the 5 years since their implementation and with efforts from the HLPF, states, and non-state actors working together, progress will come.